Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ft. Hood

Let me start by saying I wrestled with this subject because it is sensitive on several levels (racial, military patriotism and sexuality).

As a man that has been Black all my life, I know how it feels to have my actions deemed circumspect just by my appearance by those that do not share my ethnicity. I have even been called the “N” word a few times. Now if we add my sexuality as another layer to that even those with whom I share the same race with may question my validity as a man. Let me state first and foremost I have never thought of serving in the military so I am not an authority on the subject at all, however, I do support and applaud those that voluntarily join to serve this country in that capacity.

When I first heard to the shooting at Fort Hood that occurred approximately two weeks ago and the identity of the officer was revealed I said to myself ‘okay here we go, they are going to make this about him being a Muslim’. I was a little bothered because I am sensitive to anyone being judged by his or her ethnicity for I know how that feels. Therefore, when it was reported that he was being called disparaging names by fellow officers I felt a little sorry for him but I also did not feel that any of that justified or excused him killing 13 innocent men and women. As the days rolled on and the more in-depth reports came across the news wires what unfolded was unbelievable. Here was a man that held the rank of Major in the armed forces that was being watched for sometime because of his communication with someone who is described as a religious extremist. It was noted that when he was serving at Walter Reed Hospital they were just happy to move him along because he would no longer be their problem.

As I continued to read these stories, I began to ponder; when did it become okay to keep service men and women that truly appeared to be a threat and discharge those that have served their country with honor and dedication because of their sexuality. Something is wrong with the system and it appears to be rather lopsided and in need of much repair.

Since DADT (don’t ask, don’t tell) was introduced, the military has discharged more than 13,000 lesbians, gays and bisexuals, according to the Service members Legal Defense Network. A 2005 government report found that about 800 of them had skills deemed "critical," such as engineering and linguistics, and that it cost the military about $200 million to recruit and train their replacements.

What makes this policy sad is that it ill serves this country because many of those that are discharged or in some cases choose to leave the because of DADT are the best and brightest of the armed services. Forcing someone to live in a closeted environment can lead to all kinds of mental disorders because of the fear of being outed, discharged or harrassed by fellow officers. Living in secret is not healthy and it is allowed to persist in an effort to present a false sense of security to which this does not apply.It is my hope that DADT makes it to President Obama’s desk within the next three years for repeal.